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Glex Energy Calculator

Whatever source of energy you prefer for the future, it has consequences for climate, health, economy, nature and environment. This energy calculator allows you to create your own energy mix and visualize the possibilities and challenges. It aims at providing a better understanding of what is required to become carbon neutral.

You can play around with the energy sliders on the left and immediately see the impact your choice has. You can also see what the median values in the 1.5-degree report from the Climate Panel suggests. And you can select different ways to visualize the data.

When using the tool, keep in mind that there are physical limitations that restrict the amount a certain energy source can supply. For instance, the IPCC states that the global technical potential of hydropower is 15.000 TWh, while the tool allows you to exceed this number. Similar limitations will apply for the other energy sources as well.

Try to be realistic when using the tool. For the IPCC 2050 scenario, we have used median values from the 1.5-degree report (2018) and applied a small correction factor (1.07) to reach the median total energy supply shown in the report.

Since hydropower is not specifically listed, we have assumed 6% share in the energy mix (i.e. more than a doubling from today and two thirds of the technical potential.

Minor differences from published data may be observed due to different ways of considering biomass as well as discrepancies between the relative share of the energy source’s supply versus consumption (due to loss of energy before it reaches the consumers, such as refining of oil to gasoline). Due to the relative minor impact of other energy sources, such as tidal, wave and geothermal energy sources, these are not included in our analyses.

About the calculator

We created this energy calculator to make it easier to visualize and understand the impact energy production has on the earth and humanity. The production of energy will always come at a cost of some kind and you will see that there are no easy solutions to create the energy we need. There will always be trade-offs.

The target group for the tool includes everyone that is interested in climate change whether you are young or old, student, teacher, expert or politician. And we sure hope that this calculator will be used for educational purposes.

Since data on energy production can be hard to compare because of different types of measurement, we have converted all the data into impact per TWh and we also show the impact in relatable units.

We have tried to use the most robust data sources available (see below). However, the data are not perfect and use global averages, thus ignoring many local factors. Also, experts may not necessarily agree on the numbers we have chosen. We have therefore added the possibility for the user to edit the input numbers.

Some aspects are extremely hard to measure and are not included here. One such aspect is stability which is critical for stable power deliveries over time. For instance, if you choose only solar and wind, you will need battery backup and supergrids to ensure stable deliveries all year. This will cause the cost to increase far beyond what this tool shows - and you may end up finding that it is not practically or economically possible.

Other non-quantifiable parameters include fear (e.g. of nuclear disasters and dangerous waste), visual pollution (e.g. from wind turbines and solar parks), value of untouched nature and loss of plant and animal species.

Despite these shortcomings we hope this can be a useful tool to understand how energy production is related to demand and impact, and that the calculator can contribute to a sensible discussion about the future energy mix.

Finally, we don’t want you to make conclusions based on this tool alone, but we hope it will help increase your knowledge about our energy sources.

Data

These are the numbers we have used to calculate the footprint of the energy sources. In some cases, the sources provide ranges. We have then used median- or average values provided by the sources.

Water Wind Solar Biomass Nuclear Coal Oil Gas
Mortality/TWh 1,4 0,15 0,44 4,6 0,07 57 18,4 2,8
Emissions g CO2eq/kWh 97 4 6 98 4 820 715 490
Land use in m2 pr kW 7142,9 543,5 150,8 12500,0 4,2 7,4 5,1 2,1
Materials use i tonnes/TWh 14068 10260 16457 235410 930 124019 87168 77877
Critical metals in kilos/TWh 6,40 529,88 81,82 8,92 19,89 8,92 8,92 8,92
Costs in $/MWh 47 56 85 62 77,5 58,6 58,6 46,3
Low stability (100% - capacity factor) 57,2 % 62,6 % 73,9 % 50,7 % 7,4 % 46,0 % 41.4 % 42,4 %
Solid waste in tonnes/TWh excl. CO2eq 14068 10260 16457 21080 932,5 81725 1184 581
Share of total energy consumption in % 2,7 % 0,8 % 0,4 % 7,1 % 1,7 % 27,9 % 34,5 % 24,5 %

Sources:


Data for this project have been gathered by Jonny Hesthammer and Wouter Bell Gravendeel.

Area calculation

[1] Van Zalk, John, og Paul Behrens. “The Spatial Extent of Renewable and Non-Renewable Power Generation: A Review and Meta-Analysis of Power Densities and Their Application in the U.S.” Energy Policy, vol. 123, Dec. 2018, pages. 85–88. DOI.org (Crossref), doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2018.08.023.

Cost

[2] Renewable Energy Costs in 2018. IRENA, 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2019/May/IRENA_Renewable-Power-Generations-Costs-in-2018.pdf. [Accessed: 24. March 2020]

[3] Stacy, Thomas F., og George S. Taylor. The Levelized Cost of Electricity from Existing Generation Resources. Institute for Energy Research, June 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/IER_LCOE2019Final-.pdf. [Accessed: 24. March 2020]

[4] “New Energy Outlook 2019.” Bnef.Com, BloombergNEF, 2019. [Online]. Available: https://bnef.turtl.co/story/neo2019/. [Accessed: 26. March 2020]

Emission

[5] R. Turconi, A. Boldrin, og T. Astrup, “Life cycle assessment (Lca) of electricity generation technologies: Overview, comparability and limitations,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 28, pp. 555–565, Dec. 2013, doi: 10.1016/j.rser.2013.08.013.

[6] M. Pehl, A. Arvesen, F. Humpenöder, A. Popp, E. G. Hertwich, og G. Luderer, “Understanding future emissions from low-carbon power systems by integration of life-cycle assessment and integrated energy modelling,” Nature Energy, vol. 2, no. 12, pp. 939–945, Dec. 2017, doi:10.1038/s41560-017-0032-9. Supplementary tables download link: https://static-content.springer.com/esm/art%3A10.1038%2Fs41560-017-0032-9/MediaObjects/41560_2017_32_MOESM2_ESM.xls

[7] R. K. Pachauri, L. Mayer, og Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Eds., Climate change 2014: synthesis report. Geneva, Switzerland: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2015. [Online]. Available: https://www.ipcc.ch/siteassets/uploads/2018/02/ipcc_wg3_ar5_annex-iii.pdf. [Accessed: 17. March 2020]

Mortality

[8] A. Markandya, og P. Wilkinson, “Electricity generation and health,” The Lancet, vol. 370, no. 9591, pp. 979–990, Sep. 2007, doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61253-7.

[9] B. K. Sovacool et al., “Balancing safety with sustainability: assessing the risk of accidents for modern low-carbon energy systems,” Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 112, pp. 3952–3965, Jan. 2016, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.07.059.

[10] H. Ritchie, “What are the safest sources of energy?,” Our World in Data, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://ourworldindata.org/safest-sources-of-energy. [Accessed: 17. March 2020]

[11] J. Conca, “How deadly is your kilowatt? We rank the killer energy sources,” Forbes. [Online]. Available: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/. [Accessed: 17. March 2020]

Material use

[12] “Quadrennial Technology Review 2015.” Energy.Gov, U.S. Department of Energy, Sept. 2015, [Online]. Available: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2017/03/f34/quadrennial-technology-review-2015_1.pdf. [Accessed: 23. March 2020]

[13] “Fuel Consumption of Conventional Reactor.” Nuclear Power, Nuclear Power, unknown. [Online]. Available: https://www.nuclear-power.net/nuclear-power-plant/nuclear-fuel/fuel-consumption-of-conventional-reactor/. [Accessed: 23. March 2020]

[14] Wang, T. “Capacity Factors for Selected Energy Sources U.S. 2018.” Statista, 21 Oct. 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.statista.com/statistics/183680/us-average-capacity-factors-by-selected-energy-source-since-1998/ [Accessed: 23. March 2020]

[15] Benzo Energy, “What is the weight of lithium-ion battery per kWh? - Benzo Energy / China best polymer Lithium-ion battery manufacturer,lithium ion battery,lipo battery pack,LiFePO4 battery pack, 18650 batteries, Rc battery pack,” 21-Oct-2019. [Online]. Available: http://www.benzoenergy.com/blog/post/what-is-the-weight-of-lithium-ion-battery-per-kwh.html. [Accessed: 26. March 2020]

Critical metals

[16] Publications Office of the European Union. Critical Metals in the Path towards the Decarbonisation of the EU Energy Sector: Assessing Rare Metals as Supply-Chain Bottlenecks in Low-Carbon Energy Technologies. 10 Oct. 2014. [Online]. Available: http://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/505c089c-7655-4546-bd17-83f91d581190/language-en/format-PDF. [Accessed: 23. March 2020]

[17] European Commission. “Critical Raw Materials.” Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs - European Commission, European Commission, 5 July 2016. [Online]. Available: https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/raw-materials/specific-interest/critical_en. [Accessed: 23. March 2020]

Waste

[12] “Quadrennial Technology Review 2015.” Energy.Gov, U.S. Department of Energy, Sept. 2015, [Online]. Available: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2017/03/f34/quadrennial-technology-review-2015_1.pdf. [Accessed: 23. March 2020]

[18] “5 Fast Facts about Spent Nuclear Fuel,” Energy.gov, 30-Mar-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.energy.gov/ne/articles/5-fast-facts-about-spent-nuclear-fuel [Accessed: 25-May-2020]

[19] F. Lamers, M. Cremers, D. Matschegg, and C. Schmidl, “Options for increased use of ash from biomass combustion and co-firing,” 2018 [Online]. Available: https://www.ieabioenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/IEA-Bioenergy-Ash-management-report-revision-5-november.pdf [Accessed: 25-May-2020]

[20] T. H. Adams, “Coal Ash Recycling Rate Declines Amid Shifting Production and Use Patterns,” American Coal Ash Association, Washington, D.C., Nov. 2019 [Online]. Available: https://www.acaa-usa.org/Portals/9/Files/PDFs/Coal-Ash-Production-and-Use.pdf [Accessed: 25-May-2020]

[15] Benzo Energy, “What is the weight of lithium-ion battery per kWh? - Benzo Energy / China best polymer Lithium-ion battery manufacturer,lithium ion battery,lipo battery pack,LiFePO4 battery pack, 18650 batteries, Rc battery pack,” 21-Oct-2019. [Online]. Available: http://www.benzoenergy.com/blog/post/what-is-the-weight-of-lithium-ion-battery-per-kwh.html. [Accessed: 26. March 2020]

Stability

[21] Wang, T. “Capacity Factors for Selected Energy Sources U.S. 2018.” Statista, 21 Oct. 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.statista.com/statistics/183680/us-average-capacity-factors-by-selected-energy-source-since-1998/ [Accessed: 23. March 2020]

Current energy use by source

[22] B. Dudley, “Statistical review of world energy,” BP global, 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html. [Accessed: 17. March 2020]

[23] V. Smil, Energy and civilization: a history. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2017. [Online]. Available: http://vaclavsmil.com/2016/12/14/energy-transitions-global-and-national-perspectives-second-expanded-and-updated-edition/. [Accessed: 17. March 2020]

[10] H. Ritchie, “What are the safest sources of energy?,” Our World in Data, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://ourworldindata.org/safest-sources-of-energy. [Accessed: 17. March 2020]

CCS

[24] B. Metz, O. Davidson, M. Leo, L. Manuela, and H. de Coninck, “Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage,” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, New York, 2005 [Online]. Available: https://www.ipcc.ch/siteassets/uploads/2018/03/srccs_wholereport-1.pdf [Accessed: June 22, 2020]

[25] S. Budinis, S. Krevor, N. M. Dowell, N. Brandon, and A. Hawkes, “An assessment of CCS costs, barriers and potential,” Energy Strategy Reviews, vol. 22, pp. 68, table 6, Nov. 2018, doi: 10.1016/j.esr.2018.08.003.

Energy mix 2050 (IPPC median values)

[26] J. Rogelj, D. Shindell, and K. Jiang, “Mitigation Pathways Compatible with 1.5°C in the Context of Sustainable Development,” IPCC, 2019, page 132-133 [Online]. Available: https://www.ipcc.ch/siteassets/uploads/sites/2/2019/02/SR15_Chapter2_Low_Res.pdf [Accessed: May 6, 2020]

Energy use and area need per capita

[27] D. Mackay, Sustainable Energy - Without the hot air. Cambridge: UIT, 2009 [Online]. Available: https://www.withouthotair.com/[Accessed: June 22, 2020]

[28] “Energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita) | Data.” [Online]. Available: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.USE.PCAP.KG.OE?view=map[Accessed: June 22, 2020]

[29] “List of countries and dependencies by area,” Wikipedia. 10-Jun-2020 [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_countries_and_dependencies_by_area&oldid=961823799[Accessed: June 22, 2020]

[1] Van Zalk, John, og Paul Behrens. “The Spatial Extent of Renewable and Non-Renewable Power Generation: A Review and Meta-Analysis of Power Densities and Their Application in the U.S.” Energy Policy, vol. 123, Dec. 2018, pages. 85–88. DOI.org (Crossref), doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2018.08.023.

Conversions

[30] Tons Of Coal Equivalent to Tons Of Oil Equivalent | Kyle’s Converter. [Online]. Available: http://www.kylesconverter.com/energy,-work,-and-heat/tons-of-coal-equivalent-to-tons-of-oil-equivalent. [Accessed: 23. March 2020]

[31] Cubic Feet Of Natural Gas to Tons Of Oil Equivalent | Kyle’s Converter. [Online]. Available: http://www.kylesconverter.com/energy,-work,-and-heat/cubic-feet-of-natural-gas-to-tons-of-oil-equivalent. [Accessed: 23. March 2020]

[32]“Cubic Feet to Cubic Meters Conversion.” Metric Conversions, Wight Hat Ltd.. [Online]. Available: https://www.metric-conversions.org/volume/cubic-feet-to-cubic-meters.htm. [Accessed: 23. March 2020]

[33] Hofstrand, Don. Biomass Measurements and Conversions | Ag Decision Maker. Iowa State University, Oct. 2008. [Online]. Available: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/wholefarm/html/c6-88.html. [Accessed: 23. March 2020]